Weekend news roundup

30 Jan 2012

A roundup of the weekend newspapers’ tech coverage, including reports that Apple is making large inroads into the enterprise computing market, how Tumblr’s founder got his first deals and a whistle-stop tour of MacWorld 2012.

Is Apple about to smash Windows’ hold on enterprise space?

Apple is going corporate, according to USA Today. It is gaining significant traction among young workers who are choosing MacBooks and iPads over proscribed PCs and this may be a cause for concern for Microsoft.

USA Today reported that Apple is hiring sales executives across the US to get more of its products into Fortune 1000 companies. Microsoft has traditionally dominated the corporate workplace and more than 85pc of corporate computers still run some version of Windows software. But products based on Apple operating systems – including Macintosh computers, iPads and iPhones – are increasing in demand.

The newspaper pointed to strong evidence that Apple is responding to the demands of companies for a direct, formal relationship with the company rather than buying products from the Apple Store.

The growing appetite for Apple products in the workplace underscores the changing nature of the corporate market. Workers want lighter laptops, tablets computers with longer-lasting batteries and smartphones with apps in the office environment. And information technology departments and buyers are listening.

Last year, 46pc of companies in North America and Europe issued Macs to employees, according to a survey from Forrester Research. That survey of nearly 10,000 workers worldwide found that 11pc are using iPhones at work; 9pc are using iPads; and 8pc are using Macs.

Younger workers and those near or at the top of the corporate ladder were more likely to use Apple products in the office, according to the survey. Forty-one per cent of Apple users were directors, 43pc earned more than US$150,000 a year, and 28pc were between the ages of 18 and 24.

Tumblr CEO’s nerves of steel

The Guardian interviewed David Karp, founder of Tumblr, on realising his dream and discovered that the chief executive of one of the fastest-growing start-ups on the internet says he lied about his age and experience to woo clients.

Karp was 17 when he decided to cut the apron strings and move to Tokyo. With a smattering of Japanese and a sharp eye for computer code, the impatient Manhattan teenager embarked on a period of self-discovery.

“I was holed up in the middle of this world where it was just me on the internet,” Karp recalls.

Within weeks, he had fine-tuned his computer skills and cooled on the idea of building robots. He wanted to be an entrepreneur. But there was one small problem: his voice.

“I was so silly – I tried to be very formal and put on a deep voice to clients over the phone so I didn’t have to meet them and give away how young I was,” he says. “I lied about my age. I lied about the size of my team. I lied about my experience. I was so terribly embarrassed about it for so long. I should have just owned up.”

Karp returned to the US with a fistful of contracts (drawn up by his father) and a list of executives’ ears to bend. Keeping up appearances, he set up a consultancy company – dubbed Davidville – and managed to convince Viacom and others to hire him.

Dr Mac’s tour of Macworld

The San Jose Mercury News reported on Dr Mac – Bob LeVitus – who is back at Macworld this week for the 20th time or so. He’s lost track, but you can’t really blame him. After 25 years of visiting the Apple fan fest, pontificating and penning 22 Dummies guides to the iPhone, iPad and other Apple toys, LeVitus proudly wears the well-earned moniker of ‘Dr Mac.’

According to the paper, he’s the perfect guide to walk you through Macworld/iWorld 2012, the three-day convention that runs through Saturday evening at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The annual pilgrimage by Apple fans shows no sign of letting up, even though Apple pulled out three years ago. After all, says Kelly Trent with Wiley Publishing, which puts out the Dummies guides, “Macworld has always been a fan event for people who live and breathe Apple. That hasn’t changed just because Apple’s not here. Their love remains so strong.”

Earlier this week, Dr Mac took a reporter on a walking tour of the show, a sort of Macworld for Dummies. As he doled out insider tips on ways to navigate the sometimes chaotic scrum of fanboy hordes and 300 vendors, LeVitus pointed out at every turn reasons why this iconic gathering still has legs to it.

Yearning for buttons in a world made of glass

Financial Times weekly columnist and editor of global affairs magazine Monocle Tyler Brûlé is aghast at the world of glass displays that is engulfing us – from smartphone screens to massive displays on which we’ll shop, surf and live our digital lives. He argues that the one thing BlackBerry maker RIM has going for it is the reassuring click each time you press the device’s buttons.

“I’d like to know who’s waging war against buttons,” Brûlé said. “Is it the glass companies in collusion with a clutch of tech companies clustered around San José? Is it a sinister industrialist in a secret warehouse in the suburbs of Taipei? Or is it all those people (I believe they call themselves consultants) who get paid far too much money just to find ways of saving it? It might be a combination of all three, but I suspect that a consultant has convinced too many companies that it’s best to have as few moving parts as possible and therefore the future will be all about unsatisfying pokes and swipes at lifeless stretches of glass.”

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years